The Ravens.

A knight and his son row over to an island where only a hermit lived. Three ravens are conversing together, and the father remarks to his son that it would be interesting to know what they were talking about. The youth, who understood the language of birds, replied that he could tell, but was afraid of giving offence to his father by the communication. Being assured that he might speak freely, the youth then said that the ravens had prophesied that he should become a great man, and that his father should one day hold a basin of water while he washed his hands, and his mother should wait upon him with a towel. Incensed at this, the father cast his son into the sea, but the lad, being able to swim, contrived to reach the shore, and was taken up by a fisherman, who sold him to the warden of a castle. In course of time, it happened that the king was much annoyed at being followed constantly whenever he went abroad by three ravens, who kept up a loud chattering as if in hot dispute. The king offered the hand of his daughter in mar­riage to any one who would explain the meaning of the three ravens always following him, and the youth, being introduced to his Majesty, explained that the ravens were two males and one female; that during a time of scarcity the female bird's mate had driven her away, and she had been fed and supported by the young male raven; but now the old male bird had returned to claim his mate, and the female would have none of him, but elected the young male that had befriended her in adversity for her mate. The king then ruled that the old male bird should depart and trouble the happy pair no more. On hearing this decision the birds flew away. After this the youth married the king's daughter, and ruled the kingdom jointly with his royal father-in-law. Years passed on, and the youth's father having fallen into poverty, he and his wife, for shame thereof, quitted their native country, and came to the land where their own son was become so eminent. He hears of this, and visits them, with a grand retinue, at their humble abode. The aged couple, not knowing him, of course, make haste to receive him with all reverence, and the father holding the basin of water, and the mother the towel, thus was the ravens' prophecy fulfilled. The youth then discovered himself, embraced his parents, and made them comfortable for the remainder of their lives.

In the Septem Sapientum and its derivatives, such as our old English prose and Rolland's Scottish metrical versions, this story is greatly amplified by the interpolation of a series of adventures which form the plot of the romance of Amis and Amiloun.—It is found in the Cento Novelle of Sansovino, (Day viii, nov. 4), and in the novels of Lope de Vega, El pronostico cumplido; and many other parallels exist in Asiatic and European fiction; for instance: in the Arabian tale of the Second Royal Mendicant; in the Bakhtyār Nāma, story of the King of Persia and his Son; in chapter 79 of the Anglican Gesta Romanorum; in the classical legend of Danae; in the Bāgh o Bahār, story of the Second Darvīsh; in Ralston's Tibetan Tales, story of the Ful­filled Prophecy; and in Syntipas, story of Destiny, or the Son of the Sage—pp. 280-282. This last, though undoubtedly of Eastern origin (as is evident from the incident of the youth breaking through the wall of the king's palace, the common practice of Asiatic thieves since the days of Job—xxiv, 26), may yet be considered as faithfully reflecting the universal belief in Europe during the Middle Ages, based upon such scripture texts as inculcate faith in an overruling Providence, directly control­ling the destinies of every human being.